Illinois Record of Service
Great Lakes West State Manager: Monique Chism, Ph.D.
Great things are happening at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Superintendent Christopher Koch, Ed.D., recently hired several individuals to help lead the states education initiatives. In particular, Susie Morrison and Rene Valenciano have joined the ISBE team, and Great Lakes West staff look forward to working closely with both of them.
Great Lakes West completed and presented the findings of the analysis and review of the end-of-conference needs-sensing survey conducted during the second annual Illinois High School Challenge Conference, "Rigor + Relevance + Relationships = Results." Dr. Monique Chism and GLW subcontractor Allen Phelps, Ph.D., from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research attended the Coalition for Illinois High Schools' annual retreat in Grafton, Illinois, at the end of July to discuss the reports. Chism and Phelps shared with the coalition members that the end-of-conference survey responses indicated that attendees found the presentation of William Daggett, Ed.D., to be highly engaging and pertinent to the challenges they face in their schools. In addition, many participants acknowledged the salient points of his presentation and agreed that little has changed in how the nation educates young people in high schools. Similarly, conference participants found the presentation of Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., on meeting the needs of low-income students, motivational. One respondent noted a "strong emotional connection to the speaker's theme of education for all students all the time." Dr. Noguera addressed effective teaching strategies for reaching diverse students and also identified the importance of involving parents at the school.
The needs-sensing survey, titled "Thinking About Illinois High Schools: Your Thoughts and Reflections," revealed that high school educators are interested in change, but leaders need support at all levels to create a culture for change. In addition, the respondents saw value in working closely with institutions of higher education, particularly in relation to opportunities for professional development and staying abreast of new information and resources. Finally, respondents viewed using data to improve instruction as a central strategy but reported wide variation in data analysis capacity and use. This important feedback from the conference participants will help coalition members plan their next conference and workshops throughout the year.
Statewide Systems of Support
At the request of ISBE, Great Lakes West staff along with Myron Mason and Carol Diedrichsen of ISBE met with representatives from nine of the regional service providers (RESPROs) on July 17. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce RESPRO coordinators to the services and work of Great Lakes West and talk about potential technical assistance related to restructuring and statewide systems of support. Prior to the meeting, Great Lakes West conducted structured needs-sensing interviews with each of the RESPROs to obtain a sense of their current needs and the capacity of the system to meet the increasing needs of schools and districts facing restructuring and corrective action. At the end of the meeting, a steering committee was identified to explore specific technical assistance opportunities. The RESPRO steering committee had a daylong meeting on August 13 at the Kankakee Regional Office of Education. It identified specific technical assistance activities that would allow ISBE and the RESPROs to identify systemwide needs. Recommendations included technical assistance that would help cultivate shared understandings, standardize practices, share and disseminate successful practices through interactive webcasts, and identify opportunities for RESPRO staff to receive training that would bolster their capacity to meet the needs of districts and schools.
Integrated Performance-Based Monitoring Systems
Members of the integrated performance-based monitoring team are continuing to move forward with their work. The project team is comprised of ISBE staff across various divisions and supported by Great Lakes West facilitators. This quarter, the team reviewed the findings of interviews that Great Lakes West staff conducted with state education agencies (SEAs) about their monitoring systems. Interviews were conducted with SEAs from California, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. Based on a review of these states' profiles, it was determined that Texas has the most developed and established integrated system. The team discussed planning a site visit to the Texas SEA to examine the system. In the meantime, one of the first activities the team is undertaking is pulling together all of the division administrators across ISBE to discuss the possibility of creating a standardized reporting template for all divisions to use in their respective monitoring processes and to begin to identify indicators for determining risk using common ranking language or scales.
On September 4, Great Lakes West staff met with Ron Lawless from ISBE and Sam Redding and Retha Owen from the Center for Innovation & Improvement. They identified available materials, tools, and resources to support the implementation of the Great Lakes West/ISBE parent involvement technical assistance plan and also discussed a timeline for implementation. The technical assistance plan includes activities related to needs-sensing, hosting a series of interactive webcasts, and potentially hosting seminars and workshops for parents.